Throughout literature, hopelessness is depicted as a dark night. I have personally experienced a few nights that seemed to be never-ending:
- the night I sat next to my grandmother as she died.
- the two nights I spent in labor with my girls
- the night of my last drink
- the Saturday night of rain during Hurricane Harvey
Each of these nights seemed to last far longer than the minutes the clock recorded. In the darkness of each room, there seemed a heavy hopelessness. There was physical pain. There was weighty grief. There was a sense that all was lost and that ominous gloom could effortlessly overwhelm any light that dared to pierce the darkness.
Hopelessness is all-consuming. We live in a world filled with lives and stories that reflect the brokenness of human frailty. It is with regular occurrence that we hear stories of loss so great, and oppression so profound, that we struggle to see a glimmer of restoration hope. It is from these places of suffering that we are compelled to tell a different story. A story that demands hope. A story that recounts the gracious light that changes our darkness to light.
I must confess, 2018 has seemed to be unusually dark in many spaces and places. There have been global revelations and personal pain that have caused my heart to grow fearfully dark. In each of these times, I can bear witness to the power of a tiny spark. In moments when illness seemed to dominate, the care of a compassionate physician lit a match. In places of hate, a small but dominant voice of justice was the ember of love. In the darkness of change, a new voice or neighbor or friend reached out with a flame of welcome. This year has taught me that hope is not a bonfire. Hope is rarely even a living room fire. Instead, Restorer’s hope is most often a tiny spark. That’s all it takes to pierce complete darkness. A teeny, tiny spark can transform our darkest spaces.
I have so many amazing hope bearers in my world. But one of the greatest gifts in this season of life is my friend John. He is sarcastic and witty and talented. We share a wild love for liturgy and the ancient practices of faith. He is my living, breathing Advent. If
people were classified into liturgical seasons, he would be the Bishop of Advent. For real. He is also a masterful musician and (**SHAMELESS FRIEND PLUG**) has released a new Advent EP today. Much like his last one, this one is gold. There is a line in the title track, “Hope – Like a prayer to get through the night.”
Freaking, Hatfield. You nailed it.
That’s hope. Its that thing that you can’t even articulate and yet you lift it to the Divine in the darkest hour of the longest night. There are no faith conditions. There are no rules or expectation. Hope is the glorious mystery that reminds us again and again and again that darkness does not win. Not in the night. Not in the name of hate. Not in self-will. Not in disease. Not even when all seems lost. Not even in death. Hope illuminates the scary and punches fear in the face.
This Advent, this very day, may we look for the hope that is hiding in plain sight.
Hope IS here.